Jason Collins’s announcement that he was gay last spring may have prevented an NFL team from signing the league’s first openly gay player.
According to a Bleacher Report investigation, stories this past spring about how the NFL was laying the groundwork for a gay player to come out surfaced after an NFL team agreed to sign a free agent football player who told the team that he was gay.
The outlet reported that that “NFL player told a former teammate he believes the Collins story, and others about gay athletes around that time, caused the team to withdraw its offer. It was afraid of the attention.”
Bleacher Report reported that the NFL team had initially “expressed that it didn’t care if the player was gay and had no issue with him announcing he was gay after signing. The player expected the signing, and subsequent announcement, to happen in June. This would give the team, fans and media a month to adjust to the news before training camp began.”
During this time–at the end of April–Collins announced that he was gay, and the media hoopla ensued. By mid-June, the NFL team informed the player he would not be signed because of a “fear of intense media coverage.” There was reportedly another gay player NFL that teams were interested in signing before turning him down because, according to the team, he wanted too much money. Both players are reportedly not signed as of this writing.
NFL teams first and foremost do not want distractions, and the Bleacher Report piece indicates that the media’s reaction to Collins’s announcement convinced them that they would not be able to avoid the media circus that would follow the gay players. An NFL executive told Bleacher Report that the league was probably five years away from having an openly gay player.